Helena Tubridy is a fertility therapist and coach. She has an MA in bioethics and male fertility issues. She spoke to us about why it is time for men to take responsibility for their own fertility
"Let's be honest, women seem to bear the burden when it comes to most fertility issues," points out Tubridy who has helped countless couples find their baby joy through support, coaching and lifestyle changes.
"Guys think they can go on until they are 90. Well, time for a reality check — their fertility is sliding from the age of 35 onwards too."
Tubridy says that the problem is that a lot of men leave all of this up to the women in their lives. "They don't know that the risk of miscarriage increases in older men or that men who leave it late to have children are more likely to have a baby with autism spectrum disorders.
"Age is a massive factor. We live in a society where our working conditions hold people back from having children in their 20s. Men are underdiagnosed too," according to Tubridy. "When guys go to the GP to ask about this, they get a very basic semen analysis. But that is a little snapshot — it shows that you have sperm, and that they are moving, and that they look like this. It is very basic.
Time to get your fertility ducks in a row
"If you are on a fertility journey with your partner, there are plenty of other things that a man can be doing — getting a detailed background health history, things like a testicular biopsy, a full hormonal profile. Often when there is a problem with having a baby there is a little on both sides — both male and female issues that need tweaking".
So what kind of things can men do?
"Stress and anxiety play a bigger role in sperm production and quality than many men might think," says Helena. "They might have an STI from the past which has led to adhesions or scaring. The amount of exercise can impact this too. Body shape, sensitivity to chemicals in the environment, food, sugar, and caffeine in the diet. Many men think it will all be grand.
We always hear about a woman going to the gynaecologist but how often do you hear of men going to the andrologist? That is those who care for the male reproduction system."
The men I see seem to trail along behind looking slightly blank and acting like it will all be grand
Helena says that male fertility is a measure of general health.
"Everyone is busy and forgetting that sleep is useful, vital and non-negotiable when it comes to fertility. Eight hours really works. Fertility is complex so every small change you make can help. Eat more fish to get iodine levels up, cut down on alcohol, get your fertility ducks in a row."
And in some positive news for everyone, Helena busts one of the biggest myths when it comes to baby-making.
"You need to be at it like rabbits. You cannot dilute sperm. Masturbation is sometimes discouraged by the woman in a couple but it's a very natural thing to do and won't 'waste' sperm in that manner."
Ultimately, Helena wants to move away from the role of women in fertility as the finger-waggers. "They are shouldering the burden. They are the ones saying 'don't drink, don't wank, come home in an hour to have sex'.
"The men I see seem to trail along behind looking slightly blank and acting like it will all be grand. Guys need to get onto the same page. They should view it as a project they have to manage — have goals, like at work."
"With fertility levels dropping worldwide, there has never been a better time for men to start taking an active role in their contribution to creating life.
"It's time they realise their fertility is sliding down a hill too. This isn't just a woman's issue!"
For extra fertility support, coaching and advice you can contact Helena Tubridy
Read more: Why we need to talk more openly about fertility
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